About Mountain Kids Swim Lessons
Mountain Kids Swim Lessons (MKSL) began in the Summer of 2020 at Tie Lake in the East Kootenays BC, by myself, Sarah Laverick. In pre-COVID times, I was working at Fernie Aquatic Center (FAC) as a qualified National Lifeguard and Red Cross Water Safety Instructor. We were shut down in March 2020, and with no opening or swim lesson offerings in sight, I decided to do something about it. After many lesson requests from local families, I shared a survey on social media to gauge interest of participating in private lessons at a local lake and was overwhelmed with dozens of positive responses in less than 24 hours. I went ahead and put together a Facebook page with a booking system, opened up 3 weeks of lessons with 3 days a week to start and was almost fully booked within 4 days of launching. By the end of the Summer, I taught 6 weeks of lessons in total and every week was booked solid. Mountain Kids Swim Lessons was born!
After scoping out all the local lakes, I decided that Tie Lake was perfect for teaching beginner lessons. It is well maintained with change rooms, picnic tables, toilets, ample parking and lots of space to socially distance. The public swimming area is enclosed by a buoy line of approximately 35-40 meters wide by 10-15 meters from the shore out to the line. It is a gradually sloping beach at a consistent angle (no sharp drop offs), with the deepest few meters before the buoy line being about 2-2.5 meters deep. There's plenty of smooth sand, beautiful shells, cool rocks and dragonflies to find!
Most swimmers in the first year were beginners, with many families expressing the challenges of trying to book their kids into pool lessons up to 45 minutes away, 2 days a week with multiple kids in different levels. Others were concerned their kids just weren’t making much progress in group lessons and wanted a more individualized approach. I was actually very shocked to find how many kids, even up to the age of 10, who were not able to swim more than 2 meters independently or float on their back. I wanted to change that, starting with the South Country. Not only is swimming fun and necessary for many water-based activities, it is a life saving skill that also improves fitness, motor coordination, safety awareness and confidence.
Summer 2021 was just as fun! We expanded to offer lessons 4 days a week for 8 weeks, starting the last week of June and running until the last week of August. After booking out all available lessons in 48 hours, a second instructor was hired to meet the demand and we were able to double the lessons available each day. This instructor was an excellent addition to the Mountain Kids Swim Lessons team. Those lessons were nearly all booked out in 4 days after being made available for registration, with a growing waitlist. Our waitlist grew so much that a third instructor could have joined the team and had a full schedule of lessons as well! We faced a few challenges early on with COVID restrictions, an intense heatwave, followed by smoky skies and fires all around, and ended with much needed heavy rains and thunderstorms. That's just the nature of teaching outdoors in the elements!
The Fall of 2021 saw Mountain Kids Swim Lessons move indoors; teaching two afternoons a week during public swim times at Fernie Aquatic Center and three mornings a week at Sparwood Recreation and Leisure Center; with the support of facility managers. By Spring 2022, and we returned in Fall 2022, we added the hotel pool at Canada’s Best Value Inn; where we also started running parented lessons for babies and toddlers. This has been such a great space for lessons, with so much progress made in a calmer and quieter environment, but unfortunately, they will be too busy during the ski season to accommodate us.
Summer 2022 was a lot smoother, with hot and dry weather all around. Lessons were fully booked, 6 lessons a day, 4 days a week, for 8 weeks. The first 6 weeks ran at Tie Lake, but with increased cases of illnesses from the water being affected by the lack of rain, we moved locations to Waldo Cove near Baynes Lake. This was an excellent location for beginner, intermediate and advanced swimmers, and will definitely be considered again for the 2023 Summer season.
About Your Instructors
Head Swim Instructor / Founder
Standard First Aid with CPR-C
Lifesaving Society Instructor (and independent Affiliate)
- Autism Swim Provider (first in Western Canada)
Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (and Independent Training Partner)
AustSwim Instructor (previous)
Aqua Sensory (in progress)
Prior to moving to Canada in early 2018, I worked as a Swim Instructor and Coach at multiple swim schools in Sydney (Australia), while completing a Bachelor of Human Sciences (Major in Community Services). I have been working and volunteering with kids for about 16 years in various outdoor education and sporting activities in Australia, the UK, France, Cambodia and Canada.
I completed my AustSwim training and qualification in 2015 and never looked back; I fell in love with it. There's something magical about spending time with 3 year olds as they discover the strange and wonderous environment of the water, and seeing their excitement grow as they learn and develop their skills to play and swim. I had the special opportunity of simultaneously studying child development, psychology and education, which really made me realize how amazing and complex the art of learning to swim really is. Trusting a stranger to keep you alive, using your newly developed motor skills to float and move in water, and building confidence and strength.
I had to come back to it when I settled in Fernie, completing my Red Cross Water Safety Instructor training and qualification in early 2019 (recertified 2021) and teaching at Fernie Aquatic Center until we got shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19. I completed my National Lifeguard (with Standard First Aid and CPR-C) training and qualification in mid-2018 in Toronto (both recertified in early 2022), as well as my Lifesaving Instructor training in Fernie in early 2022, and Autism swim professional development training in 2022-23. I am now a Permanent Resident of Canada and have no plans of leaving!
My instructing style is kind, patient and encouraging. I believe that building a trusting relationship and connection with a swimmer comes first and foremost. Once they feel safe and supported, their skill development and confidence just grows and grows. There is no timeframe for progress and improvement, every swimmer gets there in their own time, in their own way. My goal is for them to go a little further than the lesson before, with a little more confidence; rather than trying to reach standards against other swimmers or complex marking criteria. I look forward to meeting your little swimmers soon, so our adventures at the lake can begin!
Please check out the other pages for more information. If you have any further questions you can send a message on the Facebook Page, or submit your enquiry here.